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The RSC Director speaks about the failure of Operation Sophia on BBC News

Today on BBC News, the RSC Director, Professor Alexander Betts, spoke of his lack of surprise at the failure of Operation Sophia, the EU’s naval operation to stop people smugglers in the Mediterranean. He comments that, “Militarised responses to smuggling tend not to work. What politicians have failed to recognise for a long time is that smuggling doesn’t cause migration, it responds to an underlying demand to migrate, and until we address the underlying reasons why desperate and vulnerable people are coming to Europe, attacking smugglers won’t work by itself. All it will do is increase the price for those desperate people to cross, and lead to ever more dangerous journeys.”

He speaks of the need to recognise that many people are coming from refugee-producing countries such as Somalia, Eritrea, and Nigeria. He highlights the need to ‘build capacity’ at each stage so that countries such as Kenya, which hosts many Somalis, are willing to host lots of refugees and to continue to do so, because, as he says, “if we don’t have their support, people like the Somalis will continue to need to come to Europe because they won’t have alternative options.”

He argues that “smuggling as a whole is being used as a red herring by the European Union in the absence of meaningful, viable policies to address the refugee crisis… We have seen a litany of failures since the crisis began last April… It’s a very easy narrative for politicians to say ‘crack down on smugglers, we need a war on smuggling’. It’s much harder to think about how to build meaningful capacity through jobs and education for refugees in countries that neighbour conflict and crisis, or to ensure safe passage through humanitarian visas or through resettlement places.”

Watch the full interview here >>

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